How Can Social Media Posts Affect the Outcome of Personal Injury Litigation?
Last month, Aubrey was in a terrible car accident. She is currently undergoing physical therapy to cope with the injuries she sustained. Recently, Aubrey talked to a lawyer about her case and learned about the amount of damages to which she may be entitled by pursuing a civil claim. Then, Aubrey summarized her conversation in a Facebook post. Several friends and family members liked her post and left encouraging comments. What could be the harm?
In this situation, Aubrey was only looking for the support of the online community of friends and relatives she has fostered by regularly using social media. However, by doing so, she may have inadvertently jeopardized the outcome of her personal injury claim.
Why Social Media Can be Dangerous During Litigation in Ontario
When an injured accident victim is engaged in litigation, the other parties involved in the case will undoubtedly look them up online. Even during negotiations, before the injured party actively files a lawsuit, the other parties may search for them on social media to glean personal information that may be used to help their defence.
Does the plaintiff have a criminal background? Are they particularly litigious? Has the plaintiff filed for income replacement benefits when, every weekend, they share photos of their active lifestyles on Instagram? Has the plaintiff made negative comments about the defendant on Twitter? Have they crafted posts about their weakened emotional state despite sharing photos of themselves smiling with friends and loved ones? Have they shared their lawyer’s strategy regarding their personal injury case?
Any of these examples can be detrimental to a person’s personal injury claim. By oversharing personal information on social media, plaintiffs may inadvertently reveal their lawyer’s case strategy to the defendants. Similarly, information and media shared online could be misconstrued or taken out of context to be used against the plaintiff. Defendants may use information shared online to assert that the plaintiff is lying about their injuries’ severity, or that they are exaggerating for financial gain. This being the case, if you are involved in civil litigation, it is important to exercise caution and restraint when sharing personal information online.
Best Practices for Social Media Use
If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision or sustained injuries in another kind of accident caused by another party’s negligence, it might be prudent to use caution and restraint on social media platforms, even if you are not yet certain about pursuing a claim. For active social media users, it can be difficult to stop sharing photos, videos, or personal updates online. That said, if you feel the need to continue using social media after sustaining injuries in an accident, staying mindful about what type of media you share with others may positively benefit your claim.
By taking a moment to consider whether each new post you create could be misinterpreted, purposely misconstrued, or taken out of context to undermine your claim, injured accident victims can craft a more considered attitude to the information they share online. Updating privacy settings, removing friends or followers with whom you do not have a personal relationship, and considering what you share from different perspectives may also be effective solutions. However, ultimately, the only way to truly ensure that information or media shared online will not be used against you is to stop using social media altogether.
Contact Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers
Accidents that cause serious injuries can be traumatic. Injured accident victims often endure emotional stress, physical pain, difficulties completing daily tasks, and an inability to return to work. Preszler Injury Lawyers are devoted to helping our clients recover the financial compensation they deserve. To discuss your case with our Ontario personal injury lawyers, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.